(Reuters) – Planned Parenthood on Wednesday asked Idaho’s top court to declare that a recently enacted six-week abortion ban modeled on a Texas law that empowers private citizens to sue abortion providers is unconstitutional.
A Planned Parenthood affiliate operating three abortion clinics in the state asked the Idaho Supreme Court to invalidate a measure Republican Governor Brad Little signed into law last week, and to forbid the state’s courts from giving it legal effect.
Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawaii, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky in a petition https://tmsnrt.rs/3DpixhA said that absent the court’s intervention, Idaho’s law will take effect April 22, “wreaking havoc on this state’s constitutional norms and the lives of its citizens.”
Little’s office declined to comment.
Idaho was the first state to adopt a law mirrored on the Texas law that took effect in September, allowing citizens to sue anyone who performs or assists a woman in obtaining an abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy.
The Idaho law is narrower than Texas’s, allowing only relatives of a fetus, not any citizen, to sue medical professionals who provide abortions after fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually around six weeks of pregnancy.
The law, SB 1309, provides a minimum award of $20,000 and legal fees for litigants. Like the Texas law, it bars state officials from enforcing it, a novel feature that has so far frustrated opponents trying to challenge the Texas measure in federal court by suing state officials to bar enforcement.
In Wednesday’s petition, Planned Parenthood argued the law is unconstitutional under Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal nationwide.
The U.S. Supreme Court now has a 6-3 conservative majority and appeared open during arguments in December to rolling back or overturning Roe v. Wade by allowing a 15-week abortion ban to stand in Mississippi.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio)